The danger of being paid for links

Risky BusinessWith “monetize your blog / site” ads popping up all over the blogosphere, I’d just like to quickly point out that there might be side effects other than those usually associated with suddenly becoming rich. Consider what allegedly happend to MangoSauce (possibly NSFW): “Mango Sauce was penalised because I sold links through A vengeful Google docked my “reputation” score thereby cutting referrals to the site by 75%.”

Now only Google knows if this is what actually happend, indeed there could be many reasons for being demoted on the search engine’s result pages, thereby receiving less traffic. However, while it seems to be unclear if selling links can actually damage your site’s ranking, Google’s disapproval of link selling has been very clear.

Note that I’m not saying “don’t do it” and I won’t even touch the ethical aspects of paid links. All I’m saying is “if you’re thinking about selling links, think twice, because there’s a chance your site’s ranking might suffer”.

The smart way to update WordPress

If you are currently running WordPress 2.0.6 or an earlier version, it is recommended that you update to WordPress 2.0.7. Unlike previous updates, this one is so small that WordPress published a list of files which have changed since 2.0.6. You’ll only have to upload these files and not the complete installation. You can get a ZIP (or a diff file, if you’re able to use it) of the changed files at Mark Jaquith’s blog.

However, what if your current installation is older than 2.0.6? If you still have a copy of the older WordPress version on your local PC, you could use WinMerge (open source, Win32) to identify the changed files and copy them to a directory from which you can then upload them. Simply unzip the latest version of WordPress, run WinMerge, chose File > Open and select the directory containing the previous and current version. Make sure that “Include subfolders” is checked:

WinMerge will then compare all files and show the results in a list. Sort the list by clicking on “ Comparison result” at the top. Now select all files which are different and copy them to an empty directory by right-clicking and choosing Copy > Right to…:

This, of course, assumes you opened the new version’s folder on the right side. You could also unselect certain files you don’t want to change before copying them (e.g. files in the “wp-content” folder).

Now all you have to do is to upload the changed files, overwriting the existing ones. If you want to make a ZIP of changed files available to others, WinMerge can do this, too, but you’ll have to install the 7-zip plugin for this option to become available.

Warning: Using this method you can save a lot of time, but you should be aware of the following limitations:

  1. It won’t delete any files which have become obsolete. Always scroll down in WinMerge’s sorted list to see if any files are no longer part of the newer version.
  2. It won’t “repair” any files which might have been compromised (other than the ones you’ve selected for upload).

Sun Weblog Publisher

Sun’s Weblog Publisher is an extension for StarOffice and OpenOffice which allows you to post on your weblog directly from the comfort of your desktop application. It’s available here for 9,95 US$ (+15% VAT if you live in the EU).

If you can read this text, Weblog Publisher is working with my weblog (which uses WordPress, other blogs are also supported). Installation is rather easy, I recommend reading the instructions you can find under “ Frequently Asked Questions” in the store since they contain more information than the readme.txt file which comes with the software. In my version of OpenOffice (2.1.0), new packages are installed under Tools > Extension Manager and not Package Manager, so don’t let this confuse you.

Now let’s try some things:

A list (with bullets):

  • This
    • That
      • And that as well

A numbered list:

  1. First
  2. Second
  3. Third

Highlighting text

A picture: (edit: stupid me, forgot to add it – but it would have worked, see my wonderful drawing below ;)).

A table:

TodayTomorrowThe day after tomorrow

Vector graphics (grouped):

Different text sizes, fonts, styles and c o l o u r s

French and German special characters: àéäçöüß

(Traditional) Chinese text: ????????????????????????????

Click here to download the original open office file (OpenDocument Text .odt) and compare it to this entry.

Conclusion (edited, you can also download posts and edit them with the Weblog Publisher): Seems to be working quite reasonably well, worth the money IMHO. Things which could still be improved :

  1. The bulleted list (before I opened this post to edit it in WordPress, it contained line breaks at the wrong places)

  2. The Chinese text (transformed into question marks)

  3. I haven’t yet figured out how to add titles to links in OpenOffice – probably not possible?

  4. Some of you might not like that the table doesn’t validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional
  5. My drawing skills 😉
  6. The post date was placed in the future (some hours ahead) after I edited this entry (more than once). If you can’t see your post anymore, it’s most likely still there, but you’ll have to correct the timestamp (or wait).
  7. Updated on Jan. 22nd (using WordPress, which messed up the some line breaks – and corrected some others): Doesn’t seem to be working with if you’re using your Google account (see comment by Chris).
  8. Like most WYSIWYW web editors, it apparently inserts unnecessary tags, which can also make editing the post in WordPress a bit complicated.
  9. What about updates? As you can see, Sun’s Weblog Publisher isn’t working perfectly yet, however, reading Brad’s post, it seems you’re expected to purchase it again if you want to use the newest version. On the other hand I was able to login at and download the (identical) product again and I don’t remember having purchased any sort of “extended download service”. I’m therefore currently not sure how updates are being handled by Sun.

Why the StudiVZ disaster won’t lead to a mass exodus to Facebook

StudiVZ, Germany’s most popular social network site for university students and often called a “German Facebook clone”, has been forced to shut down its website for several days following the exposure of a series of pathetic security issues. While this disaster provided hours of great entertainment for programmers and hackers, from a commercial perspective the most interesting question is the one posted by Don Alphonso in his recent blog: What if StudiVZ’s users simply turned to the original and registered with Facebook?

As he writes, this would leave behind an essentially worthless company. However, here’s the main reason why this won’t  happen: Facebook is available in English only. Yes, we’re talking about university students and not about consumers in general, which have trouble understanding even simple slogans in English. Still, we have to face the facts: A representative study rated only 5% of the students as having very good or good English language abilities. I’m serious. Just look at my lousy English – my fellow students thought it was amazing (“You must have spent a lot of time abroad” – maybe so, but not in English speaking countries).

Loosing 5% or even 15% of their users wouldn’t cause irreparable damage to StudiVZ. You’d need a far higher figure to generate the positive network externalities which really make social networking site work. Facebook won’t get there unless they set up a German version. They probably won’t get this done until Tuesday, when StudiVZ is supposed to be back on line. Apparently they don’t even own the domain

Lesson learned: Security and internationalization should be on your mind right from the beginning of a web project.

Netobjects Fusion 7.5 kostenlos (upgradefähige Vollversion)

This post is available in German only as is the web site and software mentioned here.

Latest Release! NetObjects Fusion 9Während meiner Recherchen zu dem unten genannten Site-Style-Problem habe ich ein interessantes Gratis-Angebot von gefunden: Unter diesem Link lässt sich die Vollversion von NOF 7.5 gratis herunterladen sowie die Registrierung zur Erteilung einer Seriennummer vornehmen. Beides funktionierte bei mir problemlos. NOF 7.5 bringt gegenüber der Version 7.0 einige nützliche Neuerungen mit und sollte sich auch auf die aktuelle Version upgraden lassen (Seriennummer genügt zur Installation des Upgrades).